Megan L. Lyons, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Theodore Ellenhorn, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Martha Straus, PhD, Committee Member
  • Gina Pasquale, PsyD, Committee Member


birth mothers, first mothers, placement for adoption, social support, posttraumatic stress, posttraumatic growth, mental health care, medical care, online support, spiritual support

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Adoption has become a growing area of research. While much of the existing research focuses on the adoptees and their adoptive parents, this study aimed to focus on the first mothers/birth mothers and their life experiences related to placing an infant, or infants, for adoption. The aim of this study was to determine areas for future clinical focus and support program development throughout the adoption process. The study worked toward this goal by considering the availability and impact of perceptions of social support on the psychological stress and growth of first mothers/birth mothers post-adoption and sought to: (a) determine the strength of the relationship between a first mother’s/birth mother’s perceptions of social support throughout the adoption process and her long-term psychological wellbeing; and (b) delineate the social supports that first mothers/birth mothers have access to and utilize throughout the adoption process. The study utilized data collected from two samples of first mothers/birth mothers via an online survey. Ongoing feedback about the survey was encouraged via a qualitative question within the survey and an open stance toward email communication from participants. Ongoing feedback obtained from participants in the first sample (N = 162) informed wording changes that were meant to clarify the terms used in and the intent of some questions that were found to be confusing or inaccurate in some way. Upon reposting the survey, another 86 first mothers/birth mothers took part in the study. These responses were treated as a second sample. All data, even when incomplete, were utilized in the analysis. The findings about the impact of perceptions of social support on later psychological stress and growth were variable between samples and social support levels within each sample.


Megan L. Lyons

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-0741-1008